With no support for tonight’s gig Marillion came on early and did two short acoustic sets, which caught a few fans by surprise. But that didn’t faze this hard working band; hardly imaginative in their set order – they played their latest album in its original tracklisting from start to finish. However, never ones to rest on their laurels – despite the fact that the new album may be recycling old songs, the tracks are all arranged in a new and inventive manner. As Steve Hogarth, the lead singer, gleefully declared ‘its great fun to look over my shoulder and see Pete playing xylophones and Mark playing the glockenspiel, its like a room full of mad professors whilst were working!’
So from dulcitone to harmonium the band were in full experimental swing from -Go!’ onwards. Hogarth seems to be enjoying himself, right down to hitting his own miniature cymbal whilst the band were on good form for this homecoming of sorts for Dublin-born boy Mark Kelly. -Interior Lulu’ prompted the first early cheer as generally the warm, but understated audience listened respectfully to new interpretations of fan favourites. The brief interweaving of Talking Heads -Crosseyed and Painless’ before -If My Heart Were A Ball’ proved a pleasant surprise that few in the audience recognised. Whilst the only new song on Less Is More -It’s Not Your Fault’ certainly came into it’s own on stage as distinct from the recorded version. Steve Hogarth’s over-affected vocal style can be a bit infuriating, but as the evening’s songs progressed and the band relaxed into a rockier sound, this became less irritating.
The real excitement of the night was held over for the post interval acoustic versions of other popular tunes. An acoustic version of -Beautiful’ proved one of the most popular choices of the evening. For the first time live on this tour fans were treated to a version of -This Train Is My Life’ which, despite the band’s reservations, seemed to work. Whilst local favourite -Easter’ (inspired by W.B. Yeat’s poems) prompted resounding cheers from a cross section of the small crowd.
The normally reticent Steve Rothery was his usual introverted self – exceptional guitar but no overt interaction with the crowd. Dubbed by Hogarth as the ‘Get out of jail free guitar solo’ – which he used to great effect on -Quartz’ and the climax of the evening -Three Minute Boy’.
This album and tour are unlikely to put pay to the -Scottish heavy metal band’ moniker some still label them with and but might just have won over a few more fans.